Sports Illustrated jumps on VR bandwagon, releases 2016 Swimsuit Issue in virtual reality

Following in the footsteps of The New York Times, popular sports media franchise Sports illustrated has officially hopped aboard the virtual reality bandwagon. This year, the company’s infamous Swimsuit Issue was released alongside new iOS and Android apps, which feature news, photos, video, and a selection of virtual reality clips that users can experience via an accompanying headset.

Available as a free download for both iOS and Android, the “Swimsuit Issue 2016” gives users full access to this year’s photos, while the “Collection” section serves as a library filled with previous models who have graced the magazine past issues. Content from SI’s “Swim Daily” blog will be imported in the Swim Daily section of the app, including photos, news, and updates on what the models have been up to lately.

The “Virtual” section will allow users to use a virtual reality viewer like the Quad Virtual Reality (QVR) Viewer or the Samsung’s Gear VR. Viewers can watch various two- to three-minute clips of models Nina Agdal, Hannah Davis, and Irina Shayk posing freely on the beaches of Dominican Republic. The featured VR clips show the models staring directly at the camera, adding to the intimate feel that virtual reality provides.

The new issue will launch in two versions: a premium edition that includes a pair of QVR Viewers for $9.99 and the regular edition for $7.99. Subscribers can also order a pair of cardboard goggles for $2.49, but SI Group’s creative director Chris Hercik said they can only work with Google Cardboard. “Everybody wants to know what it’s like to be on the Swimsuit photo shoot. It’s the question I get all the time,” said Hercik in the company’s website. The Swimsuit Issue will be available on newsstands February 15th.

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